Thursday, December 23, 2010

Drinking of Christ's Love

This is one of the devotions from the book of devotions I have written based on the Heidelberg Catechism.  I recently was editing this devotional, and decided to post it here. 

Drinking Often of the Bridegroom’s Love by Faith


1) Heidelberg Catechism

The Seventh Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.

108 Q. What is God's will for us in the seventh commandment?

A. God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it, and, married or single, live decent and chaste lives.

2) Scripture

John 3:26-29: And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.

John 4:4-7: And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water.
John 4:16-18: Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”


Yesterday we asked the question, why should we “live decent and chaste lives?” The answer we gave is grounded in the triune nature of God. God himself is a community-in-relationship that exists in eternal love, and this triune existence of God sets the pattern for human relationships, including marriage. But in today’s devotion we want to explore the question a bit further: Why should we “live decent and chaste lives?”

In John 3, John the Baptist points to Jesus as the divine bridegroom, who comes down from heaven for the sake of his bride to cleanse her, unite her to himself, and care for her. In John 4, Jesus comes to a well, which in the Old Testament is the place of betrothal. Abraham’s servant finds a bride for Isaac at a well. Jacob finds Rachel at a well. Moses finds his wife at a well. And now the true bridegroom, who is the archetype of every husband, comes to a well! It is a remarkable scene. Who will the true bridegroom marry!?

Along comes a woman who is in despair about the whole concept of marriage and husbands. None of her five husbands has satisfied her, and the sixth is merely a live-in. This woman seems an unlikely candidate for marriage to the spotless, Son of God, but this is what will soon happen by unmerited grace. The Samaritan woman has met a seventh (seven is a number associated with perfection) husband who can give her living water, which will truly satisfy her thirst. The Samaritan woman becomes a picture of the church and the grace it needs, which only its perfect Husband can sufficiently provide.

Why should we “live decent and chaste lives?” Because as Christians we have been united to Jesus Christ. He is our heavenly bridegroom, who alone can satisfy our souls. Every earthly marriage is a sign and symbol of this eternal union, which brings true, eternal joy.

So much of our problem as human beings is that we have a “wandering eye.” We don’t really believe that our God can satisfy all our needs. We doubt the fact that the Lover of our souls can satisfy us with his love. The woman at the well came to understand and believe that Jesus Christ can satisfy, for he gives living water. As he himself says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The substance is greater than the sign. The reality is greater than the symbol. Marriage can be satisfying, but it is still just a signpost in our wilderness journey, pointing to a deeper, more ultimate reality. Why should we “live decent and chaste lives,” as believers in Christ? Because we belong to the Husband who meets the deepest needs of the human heart. Before we knew Christ, we gave our hearts in marriage to idols that will always fail us. Let’s give our hearts in marriage to the One who can never fail us, our Heavenly Husband and Lover of our souls. Let us drink deeply and often of his love by faith, for it will meet the truest, deepest needs our heart.

Discussion: How do the verses in John point to Jesus as the true husband of his people? Since Jesus is our Husband, what joys, privileges, and responsibilities do we have?

Prayer Starter: By faith receive Christ’s love through the gospel. Ask him to pour out his love into your heart by the Spirit. Thank him for being your heavenly husband, and enjoy his love by faith.

Silent Night - Mannheim Steamroller (Official Music Video - 1984)

"Through faith I am in Christ. This is the communion of Christ in which the sinner receives everything. The Spirit unites us through faith to the Savior personally. In this communion that wonderful exchange takes place: what is ours becomes Christ's, what is Christ's becomes ours. . . . In His divine judgment God has nothing more to require from us." --Willem Van't Spijker from his excellent chapter on the theology of the Heidelberg Catechism in The Church's Book of Comfort.

I praise Him!  --Bill

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Song of Instruction, Confession, and Petition

One of the crying needs of the church is to hear God's warning of judgment against sin.  This warning is often labeled as "fire and brimstone," but despite its bad press, this warning is needed so that we would flee to the One who took our judgment at the cross and be forgiven.  This song is based on the fifth petition of the Lord's Prayer, and it teaches us that our greatest problem in life is to be saved from God's righteous judgment against our sin.  God in His grace has provided this salvation from his judgment, but we must judge ourselves in repentance, and come to Jesus and his cross by faith, if we want to take hold of his gracious provision.  --Bill

Deepest Need of Ev’ry Person

To the tune: REGENT SQUARE “Angels from the Realms of Glory” ( Based on Lord’s Day 51 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 105). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Deepest need of ev’ry person,
born in Adam’s sinful race.
Guilt of many sins committed,
how we need God’s pard’ning grace!
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 2
What could be a greater problem
than the judgment of the Lord?
Sin a great offense against Him,
men have not their God adored.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 3
Not just sins we have committed,
evil also clings to us.
Adam’s independent nature
won’t let go, adheres to us.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 4
O how desp’rate our condition
is before the Holy One.
In our sin we stand before Him,
in His glory we’re undone.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 5
Father, we can never grasp it,
love that sent Your Son to us.
Taking on our mortal nature,
so that He might die for us.
Speak, O Christ, a word of pardon,
“Child, your sins are all forgiv’n!”

v. 6
We deserve not grace but justice
from the hand of God the King.
Do not hold our sins against us,
nor the sin that to us clings.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
through the blood that You have shed.

v. 7
You forgive us in your mercy,
through the blood of Your dear Son.
Father, we forgive our neighbor,
for the wrongs against us done.
Thanks to You for Your great mercy,
help us show it to the world.

Lord's Day 51

Q & A 126

Q. What does the fifth request mean?

A. "Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors" means,
Because of Christ's blood,
do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,
any of the sins we do
or the evil that constantly clings to us.^1

Forgive us just as we are fully determined,
as evidence of your grace in us,
to forgive our neighbors.^2

^1 Ps. 51:1-7; 143:2; Rom. 8:1; 1 John 2:1-2
^2 Matt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35

Are Christians Too Involved in Politics?

This is an excerpt from James M. Hamilton's new book, God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment.  As someone who is prone the temptation of political involvement usurping the priority of the gospel, I found this to be a good word.  Obviously, the American situation with its requirement of citizenship may call for a slightly different application of the gospel in our lives, but the non-interest and non-involvement of the New Testament authors in anything other than the gospel and its proclamation and application is worth considering.  --Bill

"The authors of these twenty-one letters are radically united in the proclamation of bizarre ideas. To see this, let us engage in a bit of contrastive analysis, contemplating what these authors did not do and what their letters do not advocate.

"Rome was not their kingdom, and they were not trying to make it home. They sought the city that is to come. Not one of these authors gave his life to address the systematic injustice of the Roman empire by means of political reform. Not one of these authors went the way of Josephus and sought to cozy up to the emperor, though Paul seems to have had opportunities to seek such "influence" with some high ranking officials. Not one of these officials did or said anything about trying to stop Rome from fighting its wars. Not one of them championed the idea that the government should take money from the rich and redistribute it equally to the poor, nor did they leave the ministry to advocate a government of greater fiscal responsibility, lowered taxes, and increased national security. Not one of these authors taught that the way to change the world is by initiating a universal, government-funded education program. Not one of these authors was out to make as much money as he possibly could. Not one of these authors embracedone of the popular philosophies of the day, nor did they seek to synthesize the message of Jesus with the spirit of their age. None of them advocated higher moral standards in society at large (outside the church), nor did they lobby for universal health care or a revised definition of marriage that would legitimate same-sex unions. None of them seemed to have cared whether anyone reading their letters would be perceived by the broader culture as hip, savvy, chic, or cool. They had a different program.

"These authors believed that the decisive event in the story of the world had taken place. God loved the world by sending his Son, condemned sin in the flesh of Jesus, poured out all his wrath on Jesus at the cross, and accomplished salvation through that ultimate display of justice. God raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus commissioned his followers to make disciples by proclaiming the good news.

"how did they go about carrying out this commission? They all basically did the same thing. None appears to have sought to carry out the commission through political or educational institutions. According to the book of Acts, the simply told people, whether groups or individuals, who God is, what he had accomplished in Jesus, and what this implied for them. God accomplished salvation through judgment in Jesus and the implication for every auditor of the message is that they would either believe and be saved or disobey (be unpersuaded by) the gospel and be judged. Through the announcement of judgment, the saved rejoiced in and glorified God. The converts, those who believed the message, were gathered into congregations, churches. Paul, Peter, and James all refer to elders who led these churches."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hymn of Instruction, Petition, and Thanks Based on the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer

O Lord, You’re Very Great

To the tune: MARION “Rejoice, O Pure in Heart” ( Based on Lord’s Day 50 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 104). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
O Lord, You’re very great,
the Maker of all things.
Sustaining, ruling by Your pow’r,
You are the mighty King.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 2
Dear Father, we ask you,
as children born of grace:
O give to us our temp’ral needs,
and favor of Your face.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 3
Our Father, we depend
for ev’ry breath on You.
You give all skill and give all strength,
all thanks to You is due.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 4
Our Father, help us trust
that we are Yours in Christ,
adopted children, Jesus bought
by His own sacrifice.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 5
Your children look to You,
dear Father, please provide
the things we need in earthly life,
and with them Jesus Christ.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

v. 6
For Jesus is true bread,
without Him hearts will die.
In Him is blessing, favor, life,
by faith we find supply.

Rejoice, rejoice,
rejoice, give thanks and sing.

Lord's Day 50

Q & A 125

Q. What does the fourth request mean?

A. "Give us today our daily bread" means,
Do take care of all our physical needs^1
so that we come to know
that you are the only source of everything good,^2
and that neither our work and worry
nor your gifts
can do us any good without your blessing.^3

And so help us to give up our trust in creatures
and to put trust in you alone.^4

^1 Ps. 104:27-30; 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34
^2 Acts 14:17; 17:25; James 1:17
^3 Deut. 8:3; Ps. 37:16; 127:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:58
^4 Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5-6

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Hymn of Instruction and Prayer Based on Matthew 6:10

The Father Sent His Son, He Gave a Model Prayer

To the tune: SOUTHWELL ( Based on Lord’s Day 49 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 103). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
The Father sent His Son,
He gave a model prayer.
The Father’s will on earth be done,
in heaven it’s done there.

v. 2
The essence of our crime
is to reject God’s will,
to follow our own heart and eyes,
it’s this that makes us ill.

v. 3
So Father help us please,
our own wills to reject.
In heaven angels do Your will,
your beauty they reflect.

v. 4
Your will alone is good,
O Father, help us see
the glory shining in Your book,
the way that’s best for me.

v. 5
For Jesus is the way,
Your will He came to do.
The cross Your justice, grace display,
Your glory shining through.

v. 6
O Father, give us faith
to come to Your dear Son,
for faith gives glory unto You,
for grace that Jesus won.

Lord's Day 49

Q & A 124

Q. What does the third request mean?

A. "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" means,
Help us and all people
to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
Your will alone is good.^1

Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,^2
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.^3

^1 Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1-2; Tit. 2:11-12
^2 1 Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9
^3 Ps. 103:20-21

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Hymn about God's Kingdom

Jesus Taught Us His Own People

To the tune: W ZLOBIE LEZY (“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly” Based on Lord’s Day 48 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 102). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Jesus taught us His own people,
teaching us what we should pray.
Holy Father, may Your kingdom,
be our treasure all our days.
For Your Son has died and risen,
precious present, Jesus given.
He is King and Lord of all,
bend the knee and heed His call.

v. 2
Rule us by Your Word and Spirit,
more and more submit to You.
Father, keep us and protect us,
change our hearts and make them new.
Self condemning, sin repenting,
Christ believing, heart consenting.
Jesus Christ our risen King,
Praise to Him forever bring.

v. 3
Weak and sinful, we Your people,
how we need Your mercy now!
Sin confessing, give us blessing,
grace and strength our souls endow.
Jesus is a fountain flowing,
faith is drinking, faith is knowing.
Come to Jesus God’s dear Son,
let your heart by Him be won.

v. 4
God of justice, send Your judgments,
plunder forces of the foe.
For the devil seeks to murder,
stealing, killing precious souls.
Your church keeping, adding to it,
kingdom growing, by Your Spirit.
Send Your word that justifies,
turn from sin and turn to Christ.

Lord's Day 48

Q & A 123

Q. What does the second request mean?

A. "Your kingdom come" means,
Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way
that more and more we submit to you.^1

Keep your church strong, and add to it.^2

Destroy the devil's work;
destroy every force which revolts against you
and every conspiracy against your Word.^3

Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect
that in it you are
all in all.^4

^1 Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33
^2 Ps. 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47
^3 Rom. 16:20; 1 John 3:8
^4 Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22:17, 20

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Hymn of Prayer Based on a Petition from the Lord's Prayer

This song is mainly a song of prayer, although there are also elements of praise, confession, and instruction interspersed throughout.

Help Us, O God, to Really Know and Love You

To the tune: FINLANDI (Be Still My Soul Based on Lord’s Day 47 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 101). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Help us, O God, to really know and love You,
for all Your works to bless and praise Your name.
For Jesus taught Your precious name to hallow,
direct our ways that we may spread Your fame.
O Father, give the Spirit for we need You,
Your name to praise and live our lives anew.

v. 2
Help us reflect Your name, O holy Father,
help us to see Your glory in Your Word,
to see Christ’s face, the knowledge of Your glory,
Your Spirit send to open up Your Word.
O Jesus, give the Spirit for we need You,
Your name to praise and live our lives anew.

v. 3
Your works shine forth Your power, wisdom, kindness.
Your name conveys Your justice, truth and grace.
You are Creator and You are Redeemer,
in these Your works Your glory do we trace.
O God triune, help us to really know You,
to bear Your name and glory to pursue.

v. 4
One day this world will be filled with Your glory,
and Jesus’ name renowned throughout the earth.
So give us grace to honor You in living,
to spread Your name and seek Your kingdom first.
O Father, help Your children for we need grace,
and give us hearts to hallow Your great name.

Lord's Day 47

Q & A 122

Q. What does the first request mean?

A. "Hallowed be your name" means,
Help us to really know you,^1
to bless, worship, and praise you
for all your works
and for all that shines forth from them:
your almighty power, wisdom, kindness,
justice, mercy, and truth.^2

And it means,
Help us to direct all our living—
what we think, say, and do—
so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us
but always honored and praised.^3

^1 Jer. 9:23-24; 31:33-34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3
^2 Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11:33-36
^3 Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Song about Prayer

Bless’d We Are to Call God Father

To the tune: Come Ye Sinners --- music by Matthew Smith ( Based on Lord’s Day 46 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 100). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Bless’d we are to call God, Father,
we who once were far from God,
living under wrath and judgment,
broken law, condemned we stood.
We have favor, we have blessing,
For our judgment Jesus took.

v. 2
Pray to God who is our Father,
give Him trust and rev’rent fear.
For in Christ He dearly loves us,
prayers in faith will surely hear.
He’s our Father, high in heaven,
He will answer so draw near.

v. 3
Fathers give us earthly blessings,
don’t refuse to give good things.
How much more the heav’nly Father,
Spirit gives to His offspring.
He has given, ev’ry blessing.
Give Him praise and to Him sing.

v. 4
Fear your Father, great in heaven.
Trust Him for He’s tender too.
Fear and trust, the right demeanor,
when His glory is in view.
He is holy, full of mercy.
In His love takes care of you.

Lord's Day 46

Q & A 120

Q. Why did Christ command us
to call God "our Father"?

A. At the very beginning of our prayer
Christ wants to kindle in us
what is basic to our prayer—
the childlike awe and trust
that God through Christ has become
our Father.

Our fathers do not refuse us
the things of this life;
God our Father will even less refuse to give us
what we ask in faith.^1

^1 Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13

A Song that Teaches about Prayer and Praise

Why Do Christians Need to Offer?

To the tune: (from the RUF Hymnbook “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder” (Taylor) Based on Lord’s Day 45 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 98). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Why do Christians need to offer
prayers unto their gracious Lord?
Praise and thanks are due unto Him,
for His love to us outpoured.
He has sent His only Son,
He has sent His only Son,
He has sent His only Son,
His redeeming work is done.

v. 2
Why do Christians need to offer
prayers unto their Father God?
Christ the vine and we the branches,
life and vigor for our walk.
Jesus Christ is all we need,
Jesus Christ is all we need,
Jesus Christ is all we need,
for His grace and Spirit plead.

v. 3
Why do Christians need to offer
prayers of praise and humble need?
God triune is great, majestic,
in His glory do we see:
all our sin and all our need,
all our sin and all our need,
all our sin and all our need,
Jesus, for us intercede.

v. 4
Even though we don’t deserve it,
let us bring our prayers to God.
God will surely listen to us,
Jesus washed us with His blood.
He has promised in His Word,
He has promised in His Word,
He has promised in His Word,
in Christ’s name will we be heard.

v. 5
Why do Christians need to offer
our own bodies to the Lord?
In response to God’s great mercy,
God triune by us adored:
Let us give ourselves to Christ,
let us give ourselves to Christ,
let us give ourselves to Christ,
for His precious sacrifice.

Lord's Day 45

Q & A 116

Q. Why do Christians need to pray?

A. Because prayer is the most important part
of the thankfulness God requires of us.^1

And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit
only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly,
asking God for these gifts
and thanking him for them.^2

^1 Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18
^2 Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13

Q & A 117

Q. How does God want us to pray
so that he will listen to us?

A. First, we must pray from the heart
to no other than the one true God,
who has revealed himself in his Word,
asking for everything he has commanded us to ask for.^1

Second, we must acknowledge our need and misery,
hiding nothing,
and humble ourselves in his majestic presence.^2

Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation:
even though we do not deserve it,
God will surely listen to our prayer
because of Christ our Lord.
That is what he promised us in his Word.^3

^1 Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15
^2 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4
^3 Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6

Q & A 118

Q. What did God command us to pray for?

A. Everything we need, spiritually and physically,^1
as embraced in the prayer
Christ our Lord himself taught us.

^1 James 1:17; Matt. 6:33

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